Last evening I was entertained at Lagan Valley Island (Updated: http://www.laganvalleyisland.co.uk/ ) by my daughter’s dance class. Her teacher put on a show that comprised of all the students from her different classes and it was well received by all.
As all parents would do on such occasions took some pictures of the event (the ones my daughter was in). After 10 minutes one employee from the centre told me that you were not allowed to take pictures. However, I never saw any signs to that effect, nor was it detailed as a condition of entry. Indeed at the start of the show the dance teacher pointed out that there was a photographer and a DVD being created if we wished to purchase, but did not prohibit the taking of pictures by the audience.
As other parents were taking photos and I didn’t see any of them being told not to do so, I continued taking pictures. Again, another employee told me not to take pictures. Finally, mid-way through the second half the Manageress (or at least I presumed her to be as she wore a blue shirt instead of the red polos the employees were wearing) sat down beside me and ordered me to hand over the film or delete the pictures as was their Child Protection Policy. I refused, pointing out that many others were taking pictures yet they were not asking them to stop, nor delete their pictures. Why was I being singled out? The manageress then said that I would be refused permission to leave the building with the camera and that they would call police. I invited her to call the police as I pointed out that their policy does not make it law, and that I was committing no offense by taking pictures of my own child at a public event. At that point she left, but wasn’t going to let the matter drop as she sent Gillian (the dance teacher) up to talk to me. Same arguments were said, no change.
Finally at the end of the show I noticed the manageress talking to Gillian, after which Gillian asked to see the pictures I had taken. I was happy to show them to her – after which she said they were fine. But it looks as though next year, she will be making all parents sign a no photography form.
The net result: I am glad I stood my ground. The manageress had no business threatening me with the police. If the building is private property, then they would be within their rights to ask me to leave as they can prevent photography on their “private” (this is a council building) property – but the manageress never raised that point – just threatening me with spurious issues about their Child Protection Policy and baseless legal threats.
http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php/2004/11/19/uk_photographers_rights_guide (Updated: http://www.sirimo.co.uk/2009/05/14/uk-photographers-rights-v2/ ) for a PDF that clarified the legal aspect. I guess I’ll be printing out a few copies of that to hand out in any future difficult situations.